WASHINGTON No evidence has emerged to suggest Russian hacking influenced the outcome of the U.S. presidential election and it would be irresponsible to jump to conclusions before receiving a final intelligence report, Donald Trump’s spokesman said on Monday.
“There is zero evidence that they influenced the election,” Sean Spicer told Fox News.
Due to become White House press secretary when Trump enters the White House on January 20, Spicer told CNN the president-elect would see the intelligence report once it was completed later this week. On Saturday, Trump warned against being quick to pin the blame on Russia for the hacking of U.S. emails.
“The idea that we’re jumping to conclusions before we have a final report is irresponsible,” Spicer told CNN.
President Barack Obama expelled 35 Russian suspected spies and imposed sanctions on two Russian intelligence agencies last week for alleged Kremlin involvement in hacking that intelligence officials said aimed to help the Republican Trump defeat Democrat Hillary Clinton in the Nov. 8 election.
Leading lawmakers from both parties have voiced alarm at the suggestion of Russian interference, whether or not it made a difference in the outcome.
Republican John McCain, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, has scheduled a Thursday hearing on foreign cyber threats. The new Congress, elected on Nov. 8, takes office on Tuesday.
Calling for closer ties with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Trump has repeatedly played down the hacking affair.
Over the weekend Trump said he knew “things that other people don’t know” and would disclose some information on the issue on Tuesday or Wednesday. He gave no further detail.
“He’s going to talk about his conclusions and where he thinks things stand,” Spicer told CNN. “He’s not going to reveal anything that was privileged or shared with him classified.”
On Sunday Spicer said the White House may have disproportionately punished Russia.
“It’s baffling,” U.S. Representative Eric Swalwell, a Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, told MSNBC on Monday. “President-elect Trump does not have any better information than President Obama.”
A Gallup Poll released on Monday showed less than half of Americans were confident in Trump’s ability to handle an international crisis, to use military force wisely or to prevent major scandals in his administration.
The poll said at least seven in 10 Americans were confident in presidents Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton in those areas before they took office.
(Writing by Susan Heavey; Editing by Howard Goller)